When it comes to unique venues, Material Culture in Philadelphia comes out on top. Ian Shiver of Viva Love Photography had the great fortune of meeting Nick and Mina, who planned to hold their nuptials at the spacious emporium of antique furniture, works of art and other cool finds from around the world.
“Every table and chair is unique from the one next to it, and everything has a price tag on it,” Shiver recounts. “The walls are also covered in statues and masks and giant rugs from all over the world. It’s overwhelming, in a good way. Especially the giant animal-shaped coffins.”
The chemistry between him and the couple was pretty effortless when they first sat down to chat details at a restaurant in Brooklyn, which always makes things easier. “We all instantly hit it off, and that allowed for a really natural, productive chemistry,” Shiver says. “Nick and I bonded over obscure independent zine publishers and noise artists out of Philly. In fact, their wedding invitation itself was a handmade zine, full of really funny stories about them. Easily the coolest invite I’d ever seen.”
An unusual dilemma for the photographer was the couple’s dog, Lenny. “He gets very, uh, ‘excited’ around people,” Shiver explains. “Sexually excited. So when I was trying to take family formals out in the park I had to shoot enough volume to capture at least one moment where everyone’s eyes were open, everyone was looking at the camera, and in which Lenny didn’t have an erection.”
After the first look, Shiver and the whole wedding party found a good spot in a nearby park to snap shots, and then he took the couple around town for some portraits (including one with a very historic character).
Another challenge of the day presented itself in the otherwise-amazing venue, however, once the lights dimmed. “The lights made everything very orange,” the photographer says. “I tried my best to embrace that instead of fighting it, especially since I don’t like to use flashes until people are ‘partying.’ My entire philosophy is to try to capture moments as honestly as possible, and that includes not trying to make spaces look like something they weren’t.”
Ian Shiver’s Gear
Cameras: Nikon D3S, Contax T2 (film), Fuji Instax Wide 300 (Polaroids)
Lenses: 35mm and 85mm